By Roslyn Ayers, PetSafe Web Content Specialist
Can you train a cat? After watching Michelle Mullins explain how to use a clicker and reading about how some shelter workers use treats and clickers to train shelter cats, I thought I’d give clicker training a try with my cat. If some cats can learn awesome tricks, why couldn’t Lily learn too?
With clicker training, you train your pet using a treat and a click sound. First, I taught Lily that every time she hears a click, she gets a treat. Then we started learning tricks. When she gets a trick right, she hears the click and gets a treat, usually a piece of small premium cat kibble or a few fish flakes. The click tells her she got it right, and it’s much more precise than a treat alone or a “Good Kitty.” You can use clicker training to teach tricks or to stop your cat’s problem behaviors. For example, you might teach your cat to use the scratching post with a command.
So why should you clicker train your cat? For us, the bonding time is the biggest benefit. I can tell she really loves training sessions; she purrs when she sees the clicker and rubs against me while we’re training. We usually do 5-10 minutes of clicker training and then play together for another 5-10 minutes. It’s good to keep sessions short and build in some natural playtime.
Lily has learned 3 tricks so far: Touch, Roll Over, and Sit. Each trick builds on her natural behaviors. Touch started with me putting my hand out and petting her when she came over. Then I would put a treat in my hand to encourage her to put her face in my hand. Lily likes to roll over on her toys to get me to play with her, so I started to click and treat every time she did it. Later I added the words “Roll Over” as she did it. We’re still working on Sit, where I hold out a treat just above her eye level so she has to sit and look up to see it.
The main challenges for me are keeping her attention and getting quick reactions, and for her the challenge is remembering each trick. Sometimes when I say Sit, she rolls over instead, or she’ll wait a few seconds after I give the command. We’re working on it a little bit every day.
Here’s a short video of Lily showing off her tricks, just to prove that cats can be taught! If you’d like to try clicker training your cat, the PetSafe Clik-R™ is really easy to use and comes with training instructions.
Ready to start clicking? Tell us the first trick you’d like to teach your cat in the comments below. Already have a trained cat? Tell us how you did it!
At PetSafe’s Knoxville headquarters, Roslyn Ayers is the Web Content Specialist. Roslyn comes from a family of animal lovers and has a B.A. in Writing/Communications from Maryville College. She has volunteered with various animal rescues in Tennessee and South Carolina. Roslyn currently shares her home with four cats.